North Korea said Tuesday it is no longer bound by a Feb. 29 agreement with the U.S. pledging to halt missile and nuclear arms development in exchange for food aid.
"Since the U.S. violated the Feb. 29 agreement with its undisguised hostile acts, we will no longer be bound to it," North Korea's Foreign Ministry said. "The U.S. will be held wholly accountable for all the ensuing consequences," it added.
A government source here said the comments hint at an imminent nuclear test by the North. Pyongyang agreed on Feb. 29 to halt uranium enrichment and allow IAEA inspectors to return.
The North issued the statement a day after the UN Security Council "strongly condemned" the North for launching what it claims was a space rocket on Friday and tightened sanctions. Pyongyang accused the U.S. of abusing its position as the chair of the UNSC to deny Pyongyang's right to develop its defense and civilian space programs.
"We have therefore become able to take the necessary retaliatory measures free from the agreement," the statement said. "We resolutely and totally reject the unreasonable behavior of the UN Security Council to violate [North Korea's] legitimate right to launch satellites. We will expand and strengthen space development institutions and continue launching a variety of working satellites needed for the economic development of the country."
The international community believes that North Korea’s latest rocket launch was a guise to test its newest long-range missile.
Meanwhile, U.S. Pacific Commander Adm. Samuel Locklear told South Korean reporters on Tuesday that Seoul and Washington are looking at "all options" to prevent further provocations from North Korea. Asked about the possibility of a "surgical strike" against North Korean nuclear facilities, Locklear said, "I can tell you that with the alliance we are potentially looking at all options."
Regarding what looked like a long-range missile unveiled during North Korea's military parade over the weekend, Locklear said he was not sure whether it was a functional missile or just a mock up.